[WIP] Old School Space Station from “2001: A Space Odyssey”
One of the iconic images from my youth came from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” where the Orion III Spaceplane with the Pan Am logo docked with the slowly spinning Space Station V to the tune of the Blue Danube waltz. Sadly Stanley Kubrick insisted that all the models, sets and plans used in the movie be destroyed so they couldn’t be reused in cheap sci-fi movies or TV programs afterward. This meant that modelers trying to recreate the ships, space station and moon base from the movie had to actually measure the stills from the film. When I tried to find creditable data on the space station I found widely varying estimates of its diameter.
The most well reasoned estimate I found was from the Stargazer Models site which based the station’s dimensions on those of the Orion III Spaceplane which Stargazer recalculated from pictures of the plane’s passenger cabin and the station’s docking bay. These values were larger than the commonly accepted ones (a couple of sites used his 1836 foot diameter but most were about half that) but made more sense logically. I’m a mapper rather than a modeler and I found a few issues with official design of the station because of this.
- After trimming this image and pasting it into my map with the suggested diameter I measured the habitat ring and discovered it was 168 feet thick. That equals 14 twelve foot decks (including floor/ceiling structures) or 12 fourteen foot ones. (The smaller official dimensions probably made set design easier.) Certainly enough room for a Hilton hotel though. The “bottom” deck would probably contain “ballast tanks” to balance the wheel when loads moved about.
- A 52 foot diameter spoke (click Stargazer’s hub design) has room for a lot of elevators. Indeed one could be reserved for storing (and/or launching) up to 15 Aries 1B landers (4 more if they are stacked in the habitat ring). Work pods might also be deployed from the rim (bottom) of the habitat ring but would have to be recovered by docking in the hangar bay too.
- Any spacecraft docking in a spinning hangar bay has to match the station’s spin (which was shown in the movie) and connect with the docking mechanism directly on the centerline of the hub. (See the Orbiter Wiki page for details.) The docking clamps could be on tracks to move the spacecraft closer to the walls of the hangar for on/off loading passengers and cargo, but the spin axis of the craft would have to be moved back to the centerline for it to safely depart.
After considering these issues I decided that this map set would not be a direct rendition of SS5 but instead my version of what it could have been. For each of the points above my response would be:
- I chose 13 twelve foot habitat decks plus two 6 foot outside decks (attic/bilge) that would include the hull thickness and contain important utilities. At a rotation speed of 0.8 rpm the innermost habitat deck would be at roughly lunar gravity (1/6 g) while the outermost one would be at approximately 0.2 g. Several sources have said 1 hour a day spent under 0.3 g would be enough to maintain one's health in a low gravity environment so I got the idea of large maglev trains running spinward on the lowest deck to provide this to permanent residents and long-term guests of the Hilton. (See below.*)
- I only mentioned using a spoke to store/launch Aries 1B landers to emphasize how large they are. I can easily see an Orion II Cargo Spaceplane carrying two ISO standard 40 foot cargo containers side-by-side (there is room for this if the passenger compartment and galley are replaced) that could be lowered by a special elevator in one spoke to the habitat ring. A custom cargo module for the Orion II is more likely than an ISO one but should have the same length.
- There is no real reason why the station should have a double ring so mine won’t. Since the docking bay is 230 feet wide (greatest width) by 244 feet deep and 63 feet high, the 213 foot long Orion III Spaceplane can rotate 180° to leave the same way it entered but it would be much more practical if it could pass through the bay to exit the other side. (It is open to space anyway, why not both sides?)
* On Deck 1 there is the “Fast Track” mag-lev rail line that is used by the permanent residents to exercise under 0.31 g for an hour each day to maintain their health. The four trains (one for each sector) depart from their subsector 5 stations every 75 minutes from 0800 to 2300 Zulu and circle the station 15 times at 13 mph spinward relative to the deck then spend 15 minutes loading and unloading passengers. Each train is 24 feet wide and 150 feet long consisting of two 75 foot cars: one is a fully equipped gym (a ticket includes 20 minutes use of the facilities) and the other a dining car/lounge for people waiting their turn on the equipment. Residents and long term guests at the Hilton can use the “Fast Track” for free (it’s included in their rent) but visitors and transients (and residents/guests who want extra time on it) need to make reservations and pay a substantial fee. There are 12 foot wide boarding platforms on each side of the track every third subsector but only the subsector 5 ones are used regularly: the ones at subsectors 2 and 8 are for emergencies only. There are access stairs to Deck 2 in the middle of each platform beside the elevator (both which reach to Deck 13) but the gates to the emergency stations are usually locked. Note: this is not a transit system; its a public health utility (and occasional tourist attraction)!
The grey blocks are ballast tanks used to keep the station balanced by spreading mass evenly around the rim of the habitat ring. This map is repeated throughout Deck 1 but the “Fast Track Express” only stops at Subsector 5. Okay, that's 12 maps down, only 144 to go. 😁
More to come …
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